#Celebrating80Years: 2017 marked 80 years of working with Colorado’s nonprofits as they seek to strengthen their communities. Throughout 2018, we will be looking back on this history of the outstanding organizations and people the Trustees have had the opportunity to support. On the blog you will find a history of the Foundation’s grant making and a representative organization from every year since our founding in 1937.
For more than 20 years the Broadmoor World Arena has brought a diverse selection of musical, artistic, sporting, and cultural events to the people of Colorado Springs. The arena, constructed to replace the original complex at the Broadmoor Hotel, is closely connected to Spencer Penrose’s legacy as a promoter of sports and entertainment across the Pikes Peak region.
Grantee Spotlight: Broadmoor World Arena
The history of the Broadmoor World Arena began in the 1930s, when Spencer and Julie Penrose were so inspired by a Chicago performance of Norwegian ice skater Sonja Henie that Penrose decided to convert the Broadmoor Riding Academy into an indoor ice rink. The Broadmoor Ice Palace opened on January 1, 1938 as the largest enclosed ice arena west of the Mississippi River.
The arena quickly became one of the nation’s leading year-round ice-skating centers, and the second in the country to offer summer skating. In subsequent decades, the Broadmoor Skating Club gained considerable renown (it has produced three Olympic and dozens of United States champions), and its prowess helped establish Colorado Springs’ reputation as a center for amateur athletics.
In addition to figure skating, the Ice Palace was home to Colorado College hockey for four decades and hosted the NCAA ice hockey playoffs from 1948-1957. Renamed the Broadmoor World Arena in 1961, it also hosted the World Cup Hockey games between the United States and USSR in the 1970s.
In 1996, the aging arena was torn down and replaced by the West Towers annex to the Broadmoor Hotel, but El Pomar and the community came together to ensure a continued tradition for skating, hockey, and other events in Colorado Springs. The Foundation contributed $31 million to the construction of the expanded, three-rink Broadmoor World Arena, and the new center opened to the great excitement of the community in 1998.
The World Arena’s mission is to “lessen the burdens of the city of Colorado Springs for the planning, design, construction, financing, development, ownership and operation of a multi-purpose public facility that could be used for a variety of sporting events, including basketball, ice skating, ice hockey and other activities and events held by sports organizations, educational institutions and the general public.” The organization fulfills this mission through the building and operating of the World Arena facility and operating the El Paso County-owned Pikes Peak Center.
The World Arena’s impressive structure includes 7,343 fixed seats, two specialty viewing areas—the Penrose Club and the Wigand Room, three separate sheets of ice, and capacity to host up to 9,000 spectators. This space has allowed the World Arena to host everything from high school graduations to Cirque du Soleil, International Skating to Professional Bull riding competitions, Colorado College hockey games to the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. Similarly, the Pikes Peak Center, built in 1982, holds 2,000 seats and hosts traveling Broadway shows and musicals, the Colorado Springs Philharmonic, and many more events. Both venues contribute in significant ways to the economic and cultural vitality of Colorado Springs and the Pikes Peak region.
El Pomar in 1994:
The $31 million granted to the World Arena in 1994 remains El Pomar’s largest single grant to date, but the Foundation still provided an additional 186 grants, totaling more than $7 million, in the same year. For only the fourth time, grants were provided to every one of El Pomar’s 11 geographic regions in a continued focus on leveraging grants to serve Coloradans across the state.
Spotlight by Doug Palmer
Images courtesy of http://www.broadmoorworldarena.com/ and U.S. Figure Skating Association